THE South Wales Argus has joined forces with NatWest to launch a campaign aimed at making Newport a beacon for customer service.

And to help support the campaign NatWest has launched a Newport Pre-Accelerator Programme for early-stage start-up businesses.

Chris Preston, managing director of NatWest Business Banking in Wales and the South West, visited Newport to hear about the campaign and took a bus tour around some of the key city sites including Celtic Springs Business Park, the International Sports Village and the Celtic Manor and ICC Wales.

He met with the City of Service steering committee and hosted a roundtable discussion at the Celtic Manor about the campaign and its aims.

Members of the steering committee include Simon Pullen, manager of Friars Walk shopping and leisure centre, Androulla Webb, owner of Newport-based Icon Creative Design, Dylan Jones-Evans, assistant pro-vice-chancellor and the chair in entrepreneurship at the University of South Wales, and South Wales Argus managing director Hussain Bayoomi. Representatives from Newport Transport, Veezu, Newport Now and Newport City Council are also involved in the initiative.

Mr Preston said: "Newport is a city that has been built, in part, by entrepreneurs. Sir Terry Matthews’ vision and investments at the Celtic Manor Resort have made it a world renowned venue able to attract international events such as the 2010 Ryder Cup and NATO summit in 2014.

"We believe in entrepreneurs. That is why as the UK’s biggest supporter of business we are proud to be helping record numbers of businesses in Gwent achieve success - over 5,000 to be precise.

"Service is a key way in which we help these businesses. It is only when you put the customer first that you are truly able to understand their needs and deliver a service that sets you apart from the rest. We are very blessed as a bank to have a wonderful team of employees who live by this ethos; something that makes me very proud.


"By becoming the City of Service, Newport can set a new precedence for what service is and how it is delivered. It can be recognised globally as a city that prides itself on putting customer satisfaction first. And in doing so it can attract new visitors and investment that will further cement its economic standing.

"The opening of the International Convention Centre Wales at the Celtic Manor Resort is a pivotal moment because it represents a huge opportunity to engage Newport with a new audience of people who will not have visited the city before.

"And by being the City of Service, these visitors will be empowered by their positive customer experiences to become advocates of Newport, selling the city’s brand across the globe.

"This is a bold campaign, but we want to see Newport succeed and believe with your support it can and will.

"To help we want to inspire a new generation of entrepreneurs in Newport and Gwent, which is why I am also delighted today to announce that NatWest, in partnership with the South Wales Argus, will be launching a Newport Pre-Accelerator Programme for early-stage start-up businesses.

"The Pre-Accelerator Programme is a digital-based resource supported by a calendar of workshops and events, which will be hosted at the South Wales Argus’ offices.

"This is a landmark opportunity for us to support more entrepreneurs by helping them ignite their ideas and turn them into reality. And by helping them understand the values of good customer service too, they can support Newport’s goal to become the City of Service.

NatWest Cymru has provided a £51.5m loan facility to the joint venture company constructing and managing the new convention centre as a 50/50 partnership between the Welsh Government and Celtic Manor Resort.

Mr Preston said: "I’ve been very impressed seeing the infrastructures and opportunities being developed here. Crucially there’s an appetite and determination and a great group of people working together as stakeholders to achieve success.

"I think it’s important to the Welsh economy that cities like Newport succeed. The opportunities, for example, in areas like the technology sector for Newport to look to drive more opportunity. The City of Service Campaign holds a lot of potential."

He said: "The pre-accelerator programme is a proven way of helping someone with a business idea take the important first few steps they need to empower their idea and get it off the ground.

"After they’ve completed the programme we’re then able to support them with our six month Entrepreneur Accelerator Programme. The results of this initiative have been huge.

"In Wales alone since 2016, we’ve supported nearly 700 businesses, including 119 in the last 12 months. These entrepreneurs have raised more than £1.3m in investment during this time. Importantly, our commitment to supporting female entrepreneurs is evident too with 43 per cent of these businesses run by women."